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Flint Hills Ceases Base Oil Marketing

Flint Hills Resourceswill cease marketing base stocks produced at its Excel Paralubes joint venture, leaving partner Phillips 66 to market all of the output from the Westlake, Louisiana, plant.

The agreement was reached by the companies on Oct. 10, said Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss. Flint Hills will remain a partner in the joint venture but will be a non-operational one.

The j.v. restructuring provides Excel Paralubes with greater agility to provide quality base oil solutions to customers, including the introduction of new and improved products and improved capital investment opportunities, Nuss said, but did not specify if Phillips 66 plans to invest in the facility. Excel Paralubes is the fifth-largest base oil plant in the United States, with capacity to produce over 22,000 barrels per day of API Group II base stocks.

The change is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. Base oil buyers called it unwelcome, with one anonymous buyer saying that it limits the number of suppliers in the market. Thats especially true when the supplier that you lose is an independent and the one youre left with is both a supplier and a competitor in the sale of finished lubricants, the source added.

Shell Opens Singapore Lube Plant

Shell opened an integrated lubricants and grease production facility in Tuas, Singapore, with capacity of 390,000 metric tons per year, its third-largest lubricants plant in the world.

The facility is equipped with highly-automated blending, filling and packaging technology and a lube testing laboratory. It replaces Shells lubricant blending plant in Woodlands North, Singapore, with a 50 percent increase in capacity, the company stated.

The new plant will be a production hub for a range of products such as passenger car motor oils, heavy-duty engine oils, hydraulic oils, greases and two-stroke marine engine oils that will mainly be shipped to the Asia-Pacific region. This facility will also further strengthen our marine lubricant business presence here in Singapore, the worlds second busiest port, said Huibert Vigeveno, executive vice president of Shell Global Commercial.

Another Reprieve for Leaded Alloys

The European Commission took another step toward continuing current exemptions on lead levels in alloys of steel, aluminum and copper used in certain classes of electronic and electric products manufactured in the European Union, as well as imported products. The commissions decision temporarily relieves uncertainty for global supply chains, including providers of metalworking fluids.

Traces of lead in alloys substantially reduce friction during machining operations, among other benefits, but its tendency to accumulate, its neurological effects and its toxicity motivate regulatory limitations.

The final version of the European Parliaments Restriction on the Use of Hazardous Substances contained an exemption that limited lead to 0.35 percent by weight in steel, 0.4 percent in aluminum alloys and 4 percent in copper alloys, such as brasses and bronzes, used in specific products. A draft of the next-generation legislation, RoHS 2, would have restricted lead levels to no more than 0.1 percent by weight in alloys for a much broader range of products

If implemented, this regulatory change would have affected American machine shops that import leaded steels, aluminum alloys and brasses from Europe and those that export individual parts and components of assembled products to markets in the EU. Metalworking fluid manufacturers would have scrambled to evaluate and probably reformulate metalworking fluids for use with new low-lead alloys.

New Group I in Maoming

Maoming Haihe Chemical Co., formerly known as Maoming Dazetian, began production at a new API Group I base oil plant in November. Analysts said it is the worlds first new Group I plant in 20 years.

With an annual capacity of 200,000 metric tons, the plant is located in Maonan Petrochemical Industry Park, in Maoming city, adjacent to a 25 million tons per year Sinopec petrochemical refinery, which includes a base oil plant with capacity to make Group I, II and III stocks. Maoming Haihe officials declined to identify the feedstock for their plant or confirm if it comes from theSinopecrefinery.

There is a big unsatisfied demand for high-viscosity Group I base oils, which are mostly imported, said Zhang Jianming, director of sales at Maoming Haihe. In the Southern China market, we are actually one of only two facilities that are capable of producing high-viscosity Group I oils, the other one being Sinopec Maoming.

Huntsman, Clariant Abandon Merger

Specialty chemical companiesClariantand
Huntsman Corp.mutually agreed to abandon plans to merge due to lack of support from the formers largest shareholder, White Tale Holdings.

White Tale Holdings published a letter in September claiming the merger showed questionable logic and had no strategic merit. We remain convinced, and increasingly so, that the proposed merger is detrimental to Clariant shareholders, the letter asserted. Huntsmans President and CEO Peter Huntsman refuted White Tales claims, calling the letter a transparent and self-serving attempt to derail our strategic merger of equals with Clariant.

Given White Tales opposition to the transaction and its shareholder position in Clariant, the Swiss company and Woodlands, Texas-based Huntsman believe that there is simply too much uncertainty as to whether Clariant will be able to secure the two-thirds shareholder approvals. Despite declaring the merger would be in the best interest of the companies in the long term, the boards of directors for both companies unanimously approved the decision.

Pertamina Curbs Counterfeiters

Indonesias state-ownedPT Pertamina Lubricants has stepped up its efforts to fight back against the sale of counterfeit lubricants with legal and preventive measures, as fake products continue to plague Asian markets.

The company recently filed breach-of-trademark cases at local courts in Banjarmasin, Kalimantan, after finding five incidents of counterfeiting of its products this year and last. Pertamina is investigating other cases of possible counterfeits throughout the country.

The Indonesian firm has been taking preventative measures against peddlers of imitation lubes for some time. Last December, it conducted a workshop in conjunction with the countrys Directorate General of Intellectual Property to educate its sales agents and distributors about practices used by lubricant counterfeiters. It also invested in packaging technologies such as double-sealed lids for pails and other containers, and QR codes for labels.

Pertaminas efforts to deter counterfeit product sales come as the company accelerates its international push into other markets. Recently, it began using Thailand as a launching point for expansion in China and Indochina, forayed into Egypt in October and announced plans to explore opportunities in Africa, the South Pacific, the Indian subcontinent and other regions.

Blue Chip Aims Across Africa

South Africas Blue Chip Lubricants said the completion of its 43,000 tons per year blending facility in Johannesburg earlier this year will enable it to embark on large-scale blending of lubricants for the South African and sub-Saharan African markets.

The new blending facility is designed to manufacture a variety of lubes, including greases, automotive and industrial oils, cleaning and cutting fluids and other products such as grease pumps and degreasers, said Kathleen Marais, director and owner of Blue Chip Lubricants.

The company is also aiming to distribute Kuwait Petroleum Corp.s Q8Oils in the Southern African Development Community region. Blue Chip Lubricants is the sole blender and distributor in Africa of Q8Oils.

Briefly Noted

H&R USA made an equity investment in Novvi LLC, a joint venture of Amyris, Cosan S.A., American Refining Group and Chevron USA, to use Amyris technology to produce renewable base stocks from Cosans sugar. Terms were not disclosed.

Verdezyne began constructing a 6,000 metric tons per year, palm oil based dodecanedioic acid manufacturing facility in Iskandar, Malaysia. Dodecanedioic acid is the building block of Verdezynes FerroShield, a nitrate-free dibasic acid mixture used as a corrosion inhibitor in lubricants.

Croda will commission a new biobased, non-ionic surfactants plant in New Castle, Delaware.

Songwon Industrial Co. appointed Lehmann & Voss & Co. its European distributor of antioxidants used in lubricant additives.

Indias state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp.began selling lubricants in Myanmar, claiming its the first Indian oil marketing company to expand into the Southeast Asian nation.

ExxonMobil named Aviall Services Inc. distributor for its aviation lubes in North America and Latin America, in addition to New Zealand and Australia (as reported last month.)

Faces in the News

Crystal OHalloran took the reins as executive director of the National Lubricating Grease Institute. She succeeds Kim Hartley, who moves into the newly created position of NLGI meeting planner.

Sea-Land Chemical announced that president Joseph Clayton will retire at the end of the year. He served as president for 16 of his 34 years at the company, and will continue to be involved with the distributor as a member of its board of directors.

Jeremy West was named national sales manager for North America at Pilot Chemical. He replaces Bob Rechtin, who will retire in early 2019.

Zalmai Azam, director of Pakistans Hi-Tech Lubricants, stepped down from his role. Mavira Tahir replaces him.

Bob Olree

Robert Bob Olree, who chaired the ILSAC/Oil Committee and steered it through the creation of the GF-5 engine oil specification, died Oct. 19 after a recent illness. He was 74.

Olree began his career at Ethyl Corp.s research lab in Ferndale, Michigan, where he worked for 17 years. He spent a year at American Motors before joining General Motors, where he worked on automotive fuels and lubricant development for 23 years. He was a lubricants industry representative for GM and then Intertek, and was active as a consultant in industry meetings regarding the ILSAC GF-6 upgrade and engine test protocols.

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Olree obtained a bachelor of science degree at Calvin College, as well as bachelor and masters degrees in engineering at the University of Michigan. He is survived by his wife Judy, three children, a brother, grandchildren and extended family.

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